Sunday, September 25, 2011

own your ministry

inspiration: Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life and a conversation with my sister

a few months ago, i wrote about a particular "ministry" that i felt God was calling me into.
i still don't have a clue what it looks like or will present itself as.
all i know is that it's deeply embedded on my heart.

and this past week, i've had several "God encounters" and this ministry of mine has been brought back to the forefront of my mind.

"It is painful experiences that God uses the most to prepare you for ministry. God never wastes a hurt! In fact, your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt...God intentionally allows you to go through painful experiences to equip you for ministry to others...Don't waste your pain; use it to help others." (The Purpose Driven Life, 246-248)
no truer words about our past and ministry describe me than this section of The Purpose Driven Life.

most of my "story" of faith and redemption comes from a deep season of pain and depression. i can boldly say that two years ago, i was not the person i am today; today, i view myself as a confident, God-fearing, servant of Christ; two years ago, i viewed myself as an unredeemable, hopeless outcast.

but He uses our different experiences to create ministries in our hearts.
and He wants us to OWN our ministries.
we can't take back the pain and shame and regret.
but we can use it for His Kingdom!

and i will circle back to this thought.....

a few nights ago, i had a powerful conversation with my sister, Joyann.
although, she is not my biological sister, i feel like she is my soul sister - not in the Lady Marmalade/Moulin Rouge way ("hey sister, soul sister...") or the Train way ("Hey soul sister, ain't that mister mister on the radio stereo....") but the truly spiritually-bonded way. she's 3 years younger than me, but her wisdom always humbles me. she and i have completely different frames of reference and we're always in different stages of life (when i was in high school, she was in middle school; now i'm out of college and in the "big girl world" and she is just beginning college) - but we always share the same heart and struggles and emotions.

but she and i conversed and confessed struggles and sins to each other (as is commanded in James 5:16); she and i were both able to find peace with struggles and that we both have. we were both able to break free from chains of bondage that Satan had on was a powerful conversation...

we know that God uses our struggles to draw us closer to Him.

"Our greatest struggles will be our greatest testaments of faith."

...if i were giving this as a sermon or had some sort of mood lighting, the lights would now grow dim and spotlight would be all on me...but, now to get a little more personal......*dun dun dun*

in high school, i never dated anyone. it was kind of lame, but back then, so was i.
and as i entered college and entering the dating realm, i remember a conversation i had with joyann. she was always of the mindset - and still is and i admire her more than words of my blog could ever say - that she would not date a guy unless she knew it was her future husband and she would not share a kiss with a guy until her wedding day. and i remember saying, quote "that's good for you, but i can't do that. that's not my thing..."

...and it wasn't.
but it is now.
because i know what failing to guard your heart looks like and feels like.

i know we all struggle with temptation - even Jesus faced it; but it isn't sin unless we give into that temptation.
and most of my temptation-to-sin moments have been of the flesh.
i've compromised myself and allowed myself fall into sin in relationships because i wasn't rooted in faith and i was relying solely on myself.

those are two blogs that i wrote about relationships, particularly with regard to my "one year challenge" - i feel like not only have i been called to not date until i feel like i know that the man is my future husband, but i feel like i have also been definitively told that i cannot date for a year.

this is challenging for me.
incredibly challenging in fact.
there's nothing i want to do than to be in a relationship.
i struggle in the area of patience with relationships.

but as i was running yesterday morning, i heard God clearly tell me, "I'm calling you to do this because you can't do it on your own." And then it hit me...

"Our greatest struggles will be our greatest testaments of faith."

He isn't calling me to this because He doesn't want me to date.
He isn't calling me to this because I've messed up before.
He is calling me to this because He wants me to trust Him.
He wants me to rely completely on Him.

this isn't an easy thing to give up to God, in all honesty.
but i know that He is calling me to this because He knows how easily i get entangled in temptation and compromise and sin. He is doing this for my good.

He knows the pain that i've endured before.
He wants to spare me for that.
He wants me to instead use that pain that I've endured to be a living testament of redemption.
of hope.
of faith.
of trust.

guarding my heart is a ministry that i want to own.
i want to take all the pain, shame, regret, and guilt that my past mistakes brought and use it to help others.
i want to be a mentor to young women, be it my daughter, friends, or others, to challenge them to guard their hearts. again, i don't know what that looks like.
but i know it's a ministry that i want to own!

what ministry is God calling you to own?
what struggles can you allow to be testaments of your faith?

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